Pulmonary disease specialists in Augusta, Georgia

The pulmonologists at Doctors Hospital of Augusta are here to help you breathe better and maintain your respiratory health. We perform a range of diagnostic tests to get to the bottom of your breathing problems and find a solution to restore your quality of life. Additionally, through our lung cancer program, we provide access to lung cancer screenings and offer dedicated care for patients with lung cancer.

To learn more about pulmonary and cardiopulmonary testing, please call (706) 651-6846.

Diagnostic testing

Our hospital operates its own pulmonary laboratory where we perform cardiopulmonary and pulmonary function tests to assess how well the lungs and heart are working. The pulmonary laboratory is registered with the American Thoracic Society and is managed by a board-certified pulmonary function technologist. The laboratory is located on the first floor of our hospital near the main lobby. It is open for testing Monday through Friday from 8:00am to 4:00pm.

For more information about our pulmonary laboratory, please call (706) 651-6846.

Pulmonary function testing

Pulmonary function testing (PFT) covers a wide range of tests to measure how well the lungs take in and let out air and how efficiently they transfer oxygen into the blood. PFTs are useful for:

  • Assessing the effectiveness of medications
  • Determining the cause of shortness of breath
  • Diagnosing certain lung diseases, including asthma, bronchitis and emphysema
  • Measuring if occupational exposure to contaminants has affected lung function
  • Measuring treatment progress

To conduct a PFT, the patient breathes into a mouthpiece connected to a medical instrument called a spirometer. The spirometer records the amount and rate of air breathed in and out over a period of time.

Preparing for a PFT

Before your PFT, we ask that you do not eat any heavy meals. Please do not smoke four to six hours before testing. Your physician will provide detailed instructions before testing.

During the test, the mouthpiece will be tightly fitted for you to breathe through, and nose clips are applied. Patients will go through cycles of forced and rapid breathing, which may cause temporary shortness of breath or lightheadedness.

Cardiopulmonary exercise testing

It is common for cardiac care to overlap with treatment for certain pulmonary conditions, as both organ systems work together. We use complex cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET) to diagnose conditions affecting the heart and/or lungs. CPET analyzes cardiac and pulmonary data during exercise. This helps our doctors find a reason for unexplained respiratory symptoms and diagnose conditions such as asthma.

How CPET works

CPET is used to identify what organs may be contributing to a patient's unexplained cardiopulmonary symptoms. The test helps our doctors understand what organ system is limiting a patient's breathing and exercise capacity. Not every patient with shortness of breath has a heart or lung disease.

After forming a diagnosis and care plan, CPET may be repeated to assess the effectiveness of treatment. An echocardiogram may be performed in addition to a CPET, which is helpful in assessing how well the cardiac and pulmonary systems are working together.

CPET is a computerized test that provides breath-by-breath analysis of respiratory gas exchange and cardiac function. It compares this information between times of rest and periods of exercise. It provides information about:

  • Airflow
  • Arterial blood gas levels
  • Carbon dioxide production
  • Heart rate
  • Oxygen consumption

Why perform a CPET

Doctors may recommend performing a CPET to:

  • Assess cardiopulmonary function before surgery
  • Assess exercise capacity for disability evaluation
  • Assess the prognosis of certain conditions, such as heart disease, pulmonary vascular disorders and cystic fibrosis
  • Determine if a patient is at risk for various heart and lung conditions, such as congestive heart failure and pulmonary hypertension
  • Determine if difficulty breathing is caused by the cardiovascular or pulmonary system
  • Evaluate candidates for heart and lung transplant
  • Evaluate exercise-induced asthma
  • Evaluate exercise to determine a need for pulmonary rehabilitation
  • Identify the cause of shortness of breath

Lung cancer care

According to the American Cancer Society, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths for both men and women. Lung cancer often goes undiagnosed until its later stages, as symptoms often do not present themselves until the disease is advanced. To fight this, our lung cancer program offers a screening program to help members of our community detect lung cancer in its earlier stages, when treatment is most effective.

We offer care throughout the entire cancer journey, from confirming diagnoses via biopsy to finding the best treatment for each individual. Treatment options may include surgery, minimally invasive procedures, chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy.

If you would like to speak with someone about lung cancer care, please call (706) 651-5864 or (706) 651-LUNG.